By Jack Rico
The R rated comedy ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ is a disappointment that could have been prevented if the writers would have delivered better jokes, more frequently. Besides a few laughs, this comedy isn’t worth the ticket price or your time at the theater, but perhaps at home on DVD on a lazy Saturday night.
The story is simple. Four guy friends (John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry), all of them bored with their adult lives, travel back to their respective 80s heydays thanks to a time-traveling hot tub. What ensues is nostalgic moments for most of the protagonists and a predictable twist for the finale.
For many men, there is nothing better than calling friends on a Friday night and catching a riotous R rated comedy. The attraction is the raunchy sexual humor and dialogue, ape-like rationale and an inane plotline that is already inherently funny. Many comedies in the decade of the 80’s embodied that sort of unrefined and unpretentious hilarity such as ‘Airplane’, ‘The Naked Gun’ and ‘I’m Gonna Git You Sucka‘. They were made for men and boy did we love them. 2008 saw one of my personal favorites – Role Models starring Paul Rudd and and Sean William Scott. They created a gem with scenes that pushed the envelope of comedy to its limits by having little kids curse like old curmudgeon truckers. ‘The Hangover’ reached perfection in the last decade. It received a Golden Globe nomination and even speculation that it would be nominated for an Oscar in the best picture category.
So what went wrong with ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’?
The jokes began strong and then they lagged. Those lagging moments cost the film everything. The writers, Josh Heald and Sean Anders needed to create rapid-fire jokes to avoid the sour comedic bits from affecting the strong, quick pacing of the beginning. As a result, the audience is left in limbo awaiting on hilarity that is saved for seldom occasions, as if there were rations of jokes left for us to laugh at. The acting overall was fine, some secondary 80’s cast selections were great such as Crispin Glover (Marty MacFly from Back to the Future) and Chevy Case.
The protagonists were a nice mix of actors that provided their fair skill of comedy. The highlight was Craig Robinson, who seems to be at home in this genre. If you ever saw him in ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’, he carried that movie on his back! John Cusack was a nostalgic touch that director Steven Pink I’m sure had as his secret weapon. John Cusack is the 80’s and it was great to see how he behaved under the ambiance of the period that made him a star.
Nevertheless, I was expecting so much more from this film. Whenever you see “rated R” next to a comedy, you feel like we’re in for something different (e.g. The Hangover). It’s a movie that filmmakers can sink their creative juices into without restraint. That mere idea is obviously much more difficult than it looks.
Rated: R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, drug use and pervasive language.
Release Date: 2010-03-26
Screenplay: Josh Heald, Sean Anders
Official Website: http://hottubtimemachinemovie.com/